As an ethnic, a large percentage of my time is spent thinking about ethnics and how they fare in the world at any given time. It’s my life so I like to take stock of my opportunities and limitations and am always aware of how the way in which we are viewed affects the ‘sliding door’ points of my journey. I like to check my privilege, or how little of it I have. I do this often.
After 9/11, my world was irrevocably changed. The white women I had previously consumed Lambrini and cake with (I made my best efforts to fit in) were now sat on the other side of a clear divide, and I’m not talking about the partition between us in the call centre. Those of us buying western propaganda and believing brown Muslims were to blame for everything and the rest of us; Muslims, brown people, people that look like Muslims and those with an easy tan. There were some who bitterly chided that the West was a fool to think there would never be repercussions, that the raping and looting of the rest of the world had inevitably come back to bite them in the ass but the majority of voices asked for calm, embarrassed that the actions of a few would have such devastating consequences for billions of people. This did not mean a thing to the white faces poring down on us, suddenly we were liars and not to be trusted. I will never forget the way I was instantly placed into the group that we must not believe. I didn’t practise Islam. I wore the clothes of my peers. But I was that beige-y brown people can’t quite place, the unnerving ‘other’; IC4 but I’m not sure what I’m seeing.
In the weeks that followed, I’d catch my breath every time I’d hear about a woman having her veil torn from her head. A group of men were aboard the first plane that turned the world on its axis. MEN. But there were many women who suffered because of it. Sikhs too, on account of wearing a turban that symbolises the East to many who do not have the education to distinguish between cultures never mind race (and this, their own construction). What could the non-white people of the world do except accept their fate and apologise for people they have no allegiances with? For my part, the first time I was confronted with the Al Qaeda/Taliban/Osama Bin Laden theory, I was shunned for asking for patience. On this occasion ‘due process’ ceased to exist. I was either in agreement that brown terrorists made this happen or on the side of the terrorists themselves. I lost ‘friendships’ and was devastated by this at the time. Of course, now I see them for the racist imperialist fucks they are and take comfort in the hard life lessons learnt; I was not born equal but I would make it my life’s mission to tell everybody about it. They can tout me as deluded or contrarian but every so often the world reveals its oppression of me and those like me. Or non-whites if we’re going to be honest.
Jean Charles de Menezes was one of them. If we had any hopes of restitution post 9/11 (not from guilt but from between a rock and a hard place) the events of 7/7 dashed any chance of rebuilding the fearful paranoid Britain we found ourselves in. Menezes was not Muslim or South Asian, or an Arab. He just shared a similar tone of skin. What about his appearance made him look Muslim? Whatever it was, he paid with his life. We can’t bring him back. An apology from the establishment doesn’t cut it, he is gone forever. But his legacy lives on; every time non-whites are scrutinised in this way, feared and monstered beyond all recognition. Yesterday, a self-identifying ‘high Tory’ held me up as an example of a Muslim preoccupied with her own safety, failing to take into account the young fallen soldier. This, as an example of home-grown terrorism, how people like me exist to serve only their own kind. Firstly, I am NOT a Muslim. As someone who was dragged up under a totalitarian extremist regime, I should by rights have the privilege of reviewing the particular sect I grew up under. It would be perfectly reasonable for someone like me to express a negative opinion on a subject I know far more about. But I don’t. I understand the world for the vast space it is and I’m damned if I feed the trolls. Secondly, I exist for myself but also for the people around me. I cannot understand the individual expects to flourish and succeed unless everyone else is also comfortable. That is selfish, that is greed. It describes Imperialism perfectly and people tend to view the world as thinking and behaving in the same way they do. They are wrong. When you have less privilege, you are grateful for the bits you can enjoy and in my experience; people with less tend to share more. The less privileged you are, the greater the chance you will become political. Or cynical.
In recent weeks we have been subjected to one horrific revelation after another; Britain’s darlings are wanted in connection with the systematic sexual abuse and mistreatment of minors. A pattern was emerging; white, middle to upper class, members of the establishment and big names in the entertainment industry. We were oh so close to identifying a trend that, for the first time would hold white men of power to account. That just suddenly changed didn’t it?
Black men hacked a young white man to death in broad daylight. They killed him and then calmly put it to the camera that they were fighting back. The other white people at the scene seemed to hang about without the perceived threat they were ‘under attack’. The killers calmly spoke to a white woman, she had enough detail to give a full page interview.
White people, if you seriously were under attack, would there not have been a massacre instead of what is clearly a targeted attack against one individual?
British government and media, why is this being presented as an unprecedented attack on a serving British soldier on British soil?
Four soldiers were killed at The King’s Arms, also in Woolwich, at the barracks not far from where the soldier lost his life yesterday. It was November 1974. The bombings were part of a year long mainland campaign by the IRA’s Active Service Unity.
How can we allow them to lie to us like this?
I am standing at the intersection and blinking slowly whilst this all sinks in. I haven’t the time to sign a petition for women to feature on banknotes. I am hyper vigilant and unable to sleep because my fellow human is under attack. I am under attack. I checked out the RadFems hoping for righteous condemnation of the way in which society is manipulating the kyriarchy as we speak but nada.
I did not ask to be born. I did not ask for this colour of skin. I didn’t even ask to be British if you think about it. When I am angry, when I ask why you don’t understand, it is from this position of loneliness and frustration. I want equality for women, this is patently true. But I also want equality for the non-whites, the others, the ones who have to deal with the shit that has nothing to do with us.
Without it, there is no ‘equality’.